Charter school superintendents’ perceptions of operating a charter school system in Texas : a phenomenological investigation




Purcell, Mollie Jo

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This qualitative study involved interviewing four superintendents of public charter schools in Region 10 due to Texas legislation, namely, SB 2 (financial and academic accountability for charters) and HB 5 (pathways for high school graduation for all public schools). This qualitative study answered the following questions: (a) What implications does the implementation of state law have on superintendents’ perceptions about leading Texas’ charter schools? (b) What functions of charter schools were most affected state law and policy according to superintendents of charter schools open at the time SB 2 and HB 5 went into effect? (c) What adjustments to the 10 functions of the school districts may be necessary for applying this model of school functioning to public charter schools in Texas? Each one-on-one interview was conducted in person and lasted 60 minutes to several hours. The interviews were recorded and transcribed through and coded using NVivo. The findings revealed that charter school superintendents were affected with a high sense of urgency by the demands of SB 2. The four superintendents saw HB 5 as mostly something that affected Curriculum and Instruction but not as a factor that could lead to charter school closure. The functions most influenced by SB 2 and HB 5 were Administrative, Finance, and Business Operations; Curriculum and Instruction; and Governance and Operations. The duty to manage finances responsibly was reiterated by all four superintendents throughout the data. These four superintendents spoke of finance as specifically being the most crucial subfunction for ensuring the viability of their charter schools. The data showed HB 5 impacted not only charter school configurations but also access to special funds, such as career technology money. As for the need to make any alterations to the 10 functions, Superintendent 1 said no changes were needed most effectively: “The functions are the functions are the functions.” Advocacy and education about charter schools is needed, and additional research for understanding how charter schools function as public schools in Texas is needed.


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